FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal celebrated a victory for the former Iranian hostages that was 36 years in the making.
On Monday, Blumenthal announced the establishment of a compensation fund for the 53 American hostage held for 444 days at the U.S. Embassy in Iran from 1979 to 1981.
He was joined by former hostage, Moorhead Kennedy, and the attorney representing the former hostages, Terry Reed.
"For 444 days, victims of the Iran hostage crisis like Mr. Kennedy suffered unspeakable horror and fear as they waited bravely and heroically to be freed. They waited—and fought—for more than three decades after that to receive the restitution they deserve,” Blumenthal said.
Kennedy, who now lives in Connecticut, said, “At last, our right to just compensation is affirmed in law. After 36 years, some memories will not go away, such as the night when, without warning we were told to get dressed, placed in steel handcuffs with blankets over our heads and loaded onto a van heading for execution. My nightmares have eased and I have found closure, but many of my colleagues have not. Money is an important part of compensation, but not the whole."
As part of the conditions of their release, the hostages had been banned from suing Iran in U.S. courts for their imprisonment under the Algiers Accords of 1981.
Blumenthal introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., to provide an alternative avenue to compensate the former hostages without violating the accords.
The Justice for Former American Hostages in Iran Act proposed a fund to make payments to former American hostages and their families, financed by imposing a surcharge on fines and penalties incurred by individuals and businesses in violation of Iran sanctions.
The bill provided for compensation of $10,000 per day of captivity, amounting to $4.4 million per hostage.
Congress last month passed the Omnibus budget bill that directs fees collected from violations of U.S. sanctions to be used to provide compensation to victims of state-sponsored terrorism, which includes those held during the Iran hostage crisis, such as Moorhead Kennedy who served as a lead spokesman for the hostages.
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